As a professional degree the EdD in educational leadership is designed to meet the needs of individuals seeking to improve their knowledge and skills to become highly competent educational leader-practitioners at the state, district, school, or classroom level. The EdD is designed to promote a standard of excellence intended to meet the growing demands faced by educational leaders in a context defined by instructional leadership, public accountability for teaching-learning results, increased globalization, diversity, and the emergence of new digital technologies as a part of life. The EdD programs are guided by a model of professional inquiry and reflection that emphasizes the development and improvement of systematic decision skills to address the problems, challenges, and opportunities of practice. Students examine the core content domains of strategic and instructional leadership, organizational theory, data-driven decision-making, law, supervision and evaluation, design, implementation, assessment and evaluation of curricular programs, professional development, school economics and budget planning, and other content specialization areas.  Knowledge from these domains is designed to facilitate the process of framing and addressing in critical ways the problems of practice. Although the primary goal of individuals seeking either of these EdD degrees is exemplary practice, the quality and rigor of the EdD experiences at The University of Alabama are such that pursuing a career as a university professor may be accomplished with these degrees.

Admission and Application Process Description

Doctoral students are admitted twice annually. Students are encouraged to submit their applications for admission before the deadlines listed below and they should allow several weeks for the Graduate School to process their applications:

  • Fall Deadline: October 31
  • Spring Deadline: April 1

For additional information, please contact Vanessa Williams, Senior Office Associate of ELPTS:

Application and Entrance Requirements

Potential applicants should be aware that admission to the UA doctoral programs is a competitive process and that submitting an application does not guarantee admission.  Minimum entrance requirements include the following:

  1. Masters Degree – An earned Masters degree from an accredited institution
  2.  Minimum GPA – A minimal graduate grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  3.  GRE/MAT Exam – While the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is preferred, potential applicants are required to report scores from the GRE or Miller’s Analogy Test (MAT). Test scores at or above the 50th percentile on the Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning subscales of the GRE are needed. A score at or above the 50th percentile on the MAT is needed.  Please note that scores submitted for consideration for admission must be less than 5 years old from the applicant’s admission deadline.
  4.  Other Requirements – Other application requirements include.
    1. Reference Letters – The application must include letters of professional and academic reference letters, including one from a current supervisor, as described in and as part of the Graduate School Application Process;
    2. Purpose, Rationale and Career Statement – A purpose statement which addresses the following: (1) the student’s rationale for applying for the Ed.D.; (2) a statement regarding career/professional goals; and (3) a statement of how the student’s rationale and career goals are consistent with the purpose of the Ed.D. degree as articulated by the Department and Program.
    3. Writing Sample – An academic or professional writing sample written by the applicant within the last year that provides evidence of the student’s writing ability.
    4. Professional Experience – It should be noted that for the Ed.D. degree, experience in teaching and/or leadership are key factors considered in the admission process.

Application Process and Procedures

The process consists of the following:

  1. Step 1: Graduate School Application – Applicants must first submit an application to the University of Alabama’s Graduate School.  For a complete listing of graduate application forms please visit the Graduate School at: 
  2. Step 2: Department of ELPTS Application – After completing the application to the Graduate School, students must then complete the ELPTS Department’s Application for Admission to either of the Ed.D. programs. Please note, the application is not considered complete until students have submitted: (1) the Graduate School Application; and (2) The Departmental Application. The following items should be sent to Vanessa Williams at the following mailing address: Program in Educational Leadership, Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Technology Studies, University of Alabama, Box 870302, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0302.
    1. Completed Departmental Application – This is to be downloaded, completed and returned to Vanessa Williams. The application is located under quick links.
    2. Three Letters of Recommendation – As described in the Graduate School Application above, the three required letters of recommendation, with one letter from a current direct supervisor, are to be sent directly to Vanessa Williams
    3. Vita – Applicants are required to include a vitae or resume.
    4. Writing Sample – Applicants are required to include a recent sample (within the last year) of their academic/professional writing.

Program Prerequisites

Applicants must provide evidence of the following:

  1. Masters degree – Prior to acceptance applicants most provide evidence in the admission process and before the final admission decision that they have earned a Masters degree in education or a closely related and relevant field from an accredited institution.
  2. Course Prerequisites – Prior to admission, applicants must provide evidence that they have completed courses in the following areas with the following parameters:
  3. Special Education Course – Applicants must have taken a special education course with a grade of ‘B’ or better.
  4. Graduate Level Statistics Research Course – In addition, if applicants have not taken BER 540 Statistical Methods In Educ or an acceptable/pre- approved masters-level equivalent within the last four years with a grade of ‘B’ or better, then if accepted into the doctoral program, students must complete this course before beginning the 12 hour research requirement.

Program and Course Requirements for Degree

A minimum of 72 semester credit hours beyond the Masters degree is required for completion of the Ed.D. program.  These 72 hours must consist of the following courses: Educational Leadership Courses (AEL) = 36 hours; Educational Foundations Courses (BEF) = 12 hours; Educational Research (BER) =12 hours; Dissertation Hours = 12 hours.  It should be noted that depending on coursework prior to admission to the Ed.D. program, that prerequisites for more advanced study in educational leadership may be required.

Educational Leadership (AEL) Course Requirements: 36 hours:  Ed.D. students must successfully complete a total of 36 semester hours to qualify for the degree. These requirements must be distributed as follows:

Core Educational Leadership (AEL) Requirements: 15 hours –All doctoral students in Educational Leadership are required to take the core AEL course requirements at the University of Alabama.  The AEL core consists of following 600-level courses:

More InformationHours
Core Educational Leadership (AEL) Requirements18
Organizational Theory
Survey Instructnl Superv
Lead & Org/Theory & Appl
Politics Of Education
Adv. Org. Theory
Educational Leadership (AEL) Electives 121
Total Hours39

Transfer Parameters on AEL courses – Please note that as of April 2017, the following policies guide the transference of courses into the Ed.D. program:

  • Applicants with an Ed.S. in leadership from The University of Alabama – For students with an Ed.S. from The University of Alabama and at the discretion of a student’s program of study committee, up to 15 hours (5 AEL courses) of the AEL Ed.S. may be counted toward the Ed.D. degree if the following parameters are met: (1) the course was completed no more than 5 years from the date of the student’s admittance, (2) a grade ‘B’ or better (note, not a ‘B-‘) was earned in the course, and (3) the course is not an independent study nor a “practicum” type course.
  • Applicants with an Ed.S. in leadership not from University of Alabama – (Effective April 1, 2017) For students who have completed an Ed.S. at institutions other than the University of Alabama and at the discretion of a student’s Program of Study committee, up to 12 hours of their Ed.S. program may be counted to the Ed.D. degree if the following parameters are met: (1) the institution from which the student took these courses is accredited; (2) the course(s) addresses a major curricular component of the Ed.D. program at the University of Alabama as captured in the Program’s current array of doctoral AEL courses; (3) the course(s) was completed no more than 5 years from the date of the student’s admittance, (4) a grade ‘B’ or better (note, not a ‘B-‘) was earned in the course(s), and (5) the course is not an independent study nor a practicum course.
  • Applicants with an Ed.S. in a specific curricular area of education, or in Teacher Leadership rather than in educational leadership.  Under review — TBD.

Foundations Course Requirements: 12 hours

Students are required to take a minimum of 12 semester hours of graduate coursework from content areas outside of the Educational Leadership Program. For these 12 hours students are expected to select courses from areas that will inform their research and professional interests and that, when considered as a whole, cohere thematically.  This rationale for course selection in fulfilling this requirement contrasts with electing to take a course simply because it was convenient to one’s schedule.  Research courses cannot be used to meet this requirement.  All choices must be approved by the student’s Advisor and Program of Study Committee.  The following should guide students’ choices:

  1. Selection Parameters – Foundations course hours must be met with courses outside of the student’s program area.  For example, while these courses can be within the Department they must be outside of the Educational Leadership Program or within the larger College, e.g., Educational Psychology, Curriculum and Instruction, etc. or outside of the College of Education, e.g., Political Science, Business, Sociology, Anthropology, Law, etc.  All courses must be approved by the student’s Advisor and by his/her/their Program of Study Committee.  Note:  Courses from a student’s master’s degree can be used to fulfill this requirement.  However, it should be noted that while master’s level courses fulfill the 12-hour Foundations Requirement, they may not count toward the 72 hours beyond the masters needed to fulfill the requirements for the Ed.D.  Hence, students using any courses from the master’s degree to fulfill the 12-hour foundation requirement will need to take additional 600-level courses to meet the 72-hour requirement.
  2. Recommended Courses – Given the importance of ethics and cultural diversity to leadership, the following courses are recommended, but not required.
  3. AEL 681 Ethics and Education / BEF 681 Ethics And Education
  4. AEL 667 Multicult Soc Ed Leadshp / BEF 667 Multicult Soc Ed Leadershp:  M

Note: Students who sign up for the 681 or 667 as AEL courses to fulfill this Foundations Requirement may not count these as part of the 24 hour AEL elective requirement.  Instead they should enroll in these courses as BEF courses.

Research Requirements: 12 hours:  Students are required to take a minimum 12 hours of course work in quantitative and qualitative research methods.

  1. Prerequisite Statistics Requirement: BER 540 Statistical Methods In Educ – If students have not taken BER 540 Statistical Methods In Educ or an acceptable/pre-approved masters- level equivalent within the last four years with a grade of ‘B’ or better, then students must complete this course before beginning the 12 hour research requirement. This prerequisite cannot be used to fulfill the 12-hour Research Requirement.
  2. Research Course Requirements – Students are encouraged to choose research courses that focus on the specific methods they will use in their dissertation study.  All students are required to take at least one 600-level methods course in quantitative methods.  Likewise, all students are required to take at least one 600-level methods course in qualitative methods. Recommend Courses include:
  3. Transfer Parameters for Research Courses (Effective April 1, 2012) – Given the importance of research methods to doctoral study and the propensity of human knowledge to recede if not used on a consistent basis, faculty and students are strongly encouraged to minimize the number of research courses transferred into the doctoral program.  Graduate level statistics courses taught by research faculty at other universities may be accepted for transfer only if the following conditions are met: (a) the institution from which the student took these courses is accredited; (b) the course taken was a doctoral level course; (c) the course was completed no more than 4 years from the date of the student’s admittance to the UA doctoral program, and (d) the student received a grade of ‘B’ or better (note, not a ‘B-) in the course.

Dissertation Research Requirements: 12 hours:  Ed.D. students are required to complete a minimum of 12 hours of AEL 699 Dissertation Research.  Policies regarding registration for this course are as follows:

  1. Passing of Comprehensive Exam required – Students cannot register for AEL 699 Dissertation Research until after they have passed the Doctoral Comprehensive Exam.
  2. Continuous enrollment required – Continuous enrollment in AEL 699 Dissertation Research is required until the dissertation is completed.  It should be noted that unless they are drawing on the resources of the University and making use of their dissertation advisor, students do not need to register for dissertation hours in the Summer.  However, students working with and being advised by their chair during the Summer must register for dissertation hours in the Summer.
  3.  Minimum number of hours allowed for registration: 3 semester hours – While the number of hours per semester will vary depending on the advice to the student given by his/her committee chair in conjunction with the work load of the student, students must register for a minimum of 3 hours per semester.  It should further be noted that if students complete their dissertation work prior to having registered for 12 hours of AEL 699 Dissertation Research, that the Registrar’s Office will require the student to enroll in and pay for the full 12 hour requirement prior to graduation.

III.   Doctoral Comprehensive Qualifying Exam

A comprehensive exam designed to assess the breadth and depth of a student’s knowledge and skills is administered twice each academic year.  It should be noted that the Doctoral Comprehensive Qualifying Exam is not offered in the Summer.  Policies governing this exam are as follows:

  1. Purpose of Comp Exam:  The comprehensive exam is designed to assess the breadth and depth of a student’s knowledge and skills based on the entire range of his/her doctoral course work and consistent with the purpose of the Ed.D. degree.
  2. Exam Date and Time:  Unless specified otherwise, this multi-hour, single day exam is given on both the Tuscaloosa campus and at the Graduate Center in Gadsden, and is typically offered on Saturdays during the 9th-12th week of these semesters (9:00-12:00, 1:00-4:00). Students are required to take and successfully pass this exam before they can formally begin the dissertation process and register for dissertation research hours (AEL 699 Dissertation Research).  If students fail their Comprehensive Exams, they may retake them during the regular exam time during the following semester.
  3. Logistics of Exam:  The Student’s Advisor selects questions that reflect the individual needs of the doctoral student. The Advisor disseminates the questions to the examination proctor, coordinates the evaluation, and reports the results.  Students may choose to either type or handwrite their examination.  No lap top computers, books, notes or other outside materials will be allowed in the Examination Room during the exam.  A room with sufficient computers will be provided.  It is appropriate for students to seek information from professors on the general domains to be examined in a given course; students will not, however, be given information regarding specific questions that may appear on their exams.
  4. Requirements for Taking Exam:  Before sitting for the Comprehensive exam, the following parameters must be met by the student:
    1. Approved Program of Study – Students cannot sit for the Comprehensive exam unless his/her Program of Study has been both completed and officially approved.
    2. Completed all AEL course requirements – Students cannot sit for the Comprehensive Exam unless they have completed all AEL course requirements (AEL core + electives) or are in the last semester of doing so.
    3. Removal of all Incompletes from Academic Record – Students cannot sit for the Comprehensive Exam unless they have removed all Incompletes (‘I’) from their academic record.
    4. Completion of Comprehensive Exam Application Form – Students cannot sit for the Comprehensive Exam unless they have completed and submitted the Request To Take Comprehensive Exam Form via e-mail or fax (205.348.2161) to Vanessa Williams at

IV.   Doctoral Residency Requirement

A.          Policies Guiding Residency Requirement Fulfillment:  The Ph.D. residency requirement can be satisfied ONLY by enrolling in 9 semester hours of coursework in two consecutive semesters. Dissertation research cannot be used to fulfill the nine hours.  Courses delivered via IITS, GOALS, or QUEST formats may not be used to satisfy residency requirements.

B.          Options for Ed.D. Students Completing Residency Requirements:  The following options have been approved for Ed.D. students by the College of Education for completing residency requirements.

  1. Normal Doctoral Residency – The student spends an academic year in continuous residence on the campus of The University of Alabama as a full-time student in the Graduate School (or, if specifically approved by the faculty concerned, one full summer consisting of two terms, preceded by or followed by one regular semester).  Two contiguous semesters registered on-campus for a minimum of nine hours each term.  This requirement may be satisfied only with courses taught in Tuscaloosa, and may not include dissertation research.
  2. Alternate Doctoral Residency – As an alternative option, Ed.D. students beginning in the summer may take a total of 24 hours of coursework in the first four semesters of their program study.  
    1. First Summer: 9 hours
    2. Fall Semester: 3 hours
    3. Spring Semester: 3 hours
    4. Second Summer: 9 hours
  3. UA-Gadsden Doctoral Students – For those students enrolled in a doctoral program at Gadsden, 24 hours of continuous enrollment within 24 months.  Courses may be taken either at the Gadsden Center or in Tuscaloosa.
  4. UA-UNA Florence Doctoral Students – For those students pursuing the Doctor of Education (EDD) in Florence, participation in the cohort experience simultaneously fulfills the residency requirement pending the approval and recommendations of the student’s Advisor and Program of Study Committee.

V.   Program of Study Form – Completion

During their initial year of study and no later than the beginning of the second year of study, doctoral students are required to submit an approved Program of Study.  Completed under the guidance of the student’s assigned advisor, the Program of Study must be officially approved by this advisor and the student’s program committee. The Program of Study functions to: (1) specify in advance program course requirements; (2) plan, chart and monitor a student’s progress in the program; and (3) define the parameters regarding the course credits taken at other colleges/universities that may be transferred in to meet doctoral program requirements at the University of Alabama.  Note, students are advised against making premature judgments about courses to be transferred in from other institutions and programs.  In addition to the guidelines specified in the Program of Study (above), such decisions are based on the professional judgments of tenure-track faculty in the Educational Leadership and Instructional Leadership Programs at the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa campus.  Other UA personnel (either at the UA-Gadsden or UNA campuses) are not authorized to advise nor approve a student’s Program of Study.  Program of Study Forms for the Ed.D. degree can be found at the following link:

EdD Program of Study – Educational Leadership

VI.  Time Limits on Receiving the Ed.D. Degree

A minimum of two academic years of graduate study beyond the Masters degree is required for completion of Ed.D. degree.  Students accepted into the Ed.D. program in Educational Leadership or in Instructional Leadership at the University of Alabama have seven years from the semester in which they were admitted to complete the Ed.D. degree. This translates into 21 Fall, Spring and Summer semesters.  Students who exceed this limit must request an extension from the Graduate School at the University of Alabama and approval from the student’s advisor, the department chair, and from the Graduate School.  The Graduate School Catalogue at the University of Alabama says: Only under well-documented, extraordinary circumstances beyond the student’s control, a student may petition for a one-semester extension to the seven-year time limit that, if recommended by the advisor, the department head and approved by the college dean, and finally by the graduate dean or his/her/their designee.  If a student fails to complete all degree requirements within seven years of his/her/their admission to the doctoral program or within a Graduate School approved one-semester extension, the student will be officially suspended from the doctoral program and must reapply for admission.’